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5 things for John Deere Classic: Birdies for Charity; Springboard for stars

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The 2022 John Deere Classic will once again be contested at TPC Deere Run in Silvis, Ill. 

From charity, to cocktails, to young stars, here's what you need to know about this year's John Deere Classic:

BIRDIES FOR CHARITY

The John Deere Classic is one of the most charitable events every year on the PGA Tour with its Birdies for Charity contest. What is this? Donors, which can range from corporations making large-scale donations to any average Joe sitting on the couch donating a few bucks while watching golf, submit a guess with their donation as to how many birdies will be made at this year’s John Deere Classic. The person who guesses closest to the actual number of birdies made in the tournament will receive the grand prize, which this year is a two-year lease on a Lexus RX350 (approximate value $20,000). The number of birdies calculated includes the birdies the professionals make during the Wednesday pro-am.

The 2021 John Deere Classic helped raise $12.56 million via its Birdies for Charity program despite being required to conduct the tournament under COVID-19 restrictions. With the 2021 donations, the John Deere Classic now has helped raise a total of $145.66 million for charity since the tournament began in 1971, with $143.18 million – 98 percent – coming since John Deere assumed title sponsorship in 1998.


Full-field tee times from John Deere Classic


GO LOW

The winner of the John Deere Classic has finished no worse than 18 under in each of the last 12 tournaments. The lowest winning score the John Deere Classic has ever seen was in 2018, when Michael Kim shot 27 under over four days to win by eight shots. The eight-stroke victory was an anomaly, as the next largest margin of victory dating back to 2010 is just two shots.


SPRINGBOARD FOR STARS

Jordan Spieth was still a teenager when he showed up to TPC Deere Run in 2013 seeking his first PGA Tour victory. He got the win he’d been seeking that week, and did so in dramatic fashion, defeating Zach Johnson and David Hearn in a playoff. The playoff, however, wasn’t the exciting part. Spieth found the greenside bunker at the 18th with his approach shot in regulation. With the leaders a stroke ahead and two holes behind, the 19-year-old likely knew he would have to hole the bunker shot for a chance at a playoff, and that’s exactly what he did. The ball took one hop, slammed the bottom of the flagstick and dropped in the hole for what ended up being the first of many magic moments in the young career of Jordan Spieth.

The John Deere Classic was also the first Tour win for a young, slender Bryson DeChambeau back in 2017. DeChambeau won by a single shot over former Stanford star Patrick Rodgers.

John Deere Classic odds: Simpson the favorite

Webb Simpson, the highest-ranked player in the field, is the pre-tournament betting favorite to win the John Deere Classic.


COCKTAILS AT THE COURSE

Sporting events are always looking for more ways to entice fans to show up and have a good time – and, if we’re being honest, spend money – and it looks like the John Deere Classic has something fun planned for those who are willing to pay for it.

New this year, an event called “Cocktails at the Course” will be held Saturday at the Chalets behind the 17th hole. The $200 ticket includes special signature cocktail tastings and hors d’oeuvres served from 2-5 p.m., a John Deere Classic 14 oz. YETI mug, grounds access for all of Round 3 on Saturday and free VIP parking. Sounds like a decent way to spend an afternoon at a Tour event.


PATRICK FLAVIN

Patrick Flavin failed to advance out of the second stage of last year’s Korn Ferry Tour Q-School, forcing him to go the Monday-qualifier route for this season. Flavin just so happens to be a Monday specialist, already qualifying for five Tour events this season, highlighted by top-25 finishes in Bermuda and Puerto Rico. His success caught the eye of the powers-that-be at the John Deere Classic, who extended a sponsor exemption to the Illinois native. This exemption changed Flavin’s schedule a bit, as he spent Monday playing in a Pro-Am at the John Deere Classic – which included a stipend – instead of grinding out another qualifier hoping to get into another field.

A good performance at the John Deere Classic could be a career-changer for Flavin. A top-10 finish would get him into next week’s Barbasol Championship in Kentucky. That top 10 could come with an even bigger reward, as the top three finishers inside the top 10 at the John Deere Classic who are not already in the field for The Open Championship will receive an invite to tee it up at St. Andrews in the year’s final major.